B Mason & Sons Ltd, based in Birmingham,UK, are a leading supplier of rolled copper and copper alloy strip, combiningstate-of-the-art manufacturing equipment and practices with 160 years ofheritage. The company has progressed from a small family run business at itsinception in 1852 to become the UK’s largest and most up-to-date manufacturer ofprecision strip. Attention to quality means the ability to supply to the mostdemanding of markets throughout the world. Quality control systems areaccredited to ISO9001-2008 to ensure that the focus remains on producing aproduct that conforms to international and customer specifications andstandards. The recent development of new high performance alloys has enhancedthe product range for the automotive and electronics sectors.
Materials testing is a crucial part of the Quality Control system and B Masonhave a well-equipped testing laboratory with a range of testing equipmentincluding hardness testing and metallographic analysis. Testing machines arechosen for both metrological excellence and functional efficiency, and annuallycalibrated to UKAS accredited Standards.
Material hardness is an essential property forproducts performing in automotive and electronic market environments. TheQuality Management team at B Mason was aware that increasing numbers of hardnesstests would need to be carried out. In addition metallographic analysis of grainsizing was a manual and time consuming process and extremely dependent on thejudgement of the operator.The time had also come for the traditional manualhardness testing machine to be replaced. The decision was therefore made thatan automatic hardness testing machine would be a valuable asset to the MaterialsTesting Laboratory. In addition automation through software of metallographicanalysis the process was considered beneficial both in terms of time saving andthe repeatability and reproducibility of the process.
The specifications of automatic hardnesstesters from leading manufacturers were investigated and the ZwickRoellIndentec ZHVµ-A automatic Micro hardness tester was selected with HD softwareand VisionLite software for automatic grain sizing. ZHVµ-A was chosen for anumber of reasons, the functionality of the equipment including the facility toautomatically make and measure Vickers indentations and analyse grain size to aroutine based on ASTM E112. Also of importance was local technical back-up andthe excellent reputation of, and experience with, other ZwickRoell testequipment. B Mason were impressed with both the metrological standards of theproduct and the ease of use of the system and ZHVµ.HD and VisionLite software.The combination maximises the value of the hardness tester optics and providethe most cost effective automatic grain size Evaluation.
Since the instrument was purchased it has carriedout hundreds of Vickers hardness tests mostly in automatic mode freeinglaboratory staff to do other vital tasks. The reliability of the system meansthat staff can “click RUN and walk away”, and the planning of even long testruns has been found to be quick and easy. The grain sizing software providesquick and reliable test results, with high repeatability and reproducibility.The ZHVµ-A has been a cost effective solution for both hardness testing andmetallographic Analysis.
The ZwickRoell Indentec ZHVµ-Aautomatic Micro hardness tester is a robust unit that is proving easy to use andprovides accurate hardness measurements. The image analysis software yieldsquick and reliable grain size surveys with increased throughput.